Staff & Board of Directors


Staff Members


Max Elliott

Executive Director

Max joined Urban Roots’ original parent organization, YouthLaunch, in August 2006 and co-founded Urban Roots the following year. Max received a BA in American Studies from Tulane University, a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Essex in Colchester, England, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin (May, 2012). In 1999, he received a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California at Santa Cruz. In Central Texas, he has worked with Austin Community Gardens and with several local organic farms including Tecolote Farm, Oasis Gardens, and Pure Luck AAA Goat Dairy. Max served on the City of Austin/Travis County Sustainable Food Policy Board from 2009-2011.


Emily Mares

Development Director

As a committed fundraising professional, Emily is passionate about being the bridge between where donors’ greatest desires meet the world’s great needs. She is excited to bring this desire to life for Urban Roots to support the transformational power of bringing youth and community together through food. Her past experience includes both direct service and fundraising at organizations like Project Transformation, Project HELP, Austin Child Guidance Center, and AGE of Central Texas. Emily earned a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Austin College in Sherman, Texas and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on Community and Administrative Leadership. Originally from the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs, she is glad to have called Austin home for the past five years along with her significant other, Tim, and their spunky Yorkie-Brussels Griffon mix, Cleopatra.


IanIan Hunter-Crawford

Programs Director

Ian joined Urban Roots in August of 2015. A growing passion for food and social justice first drew him to the organization, and after working on the farm during the spring of 2015 as a farm apprentice he knew he wanted to be more involved. Ian earned a bachelors degree in philosophy and history in 2004 from Union University and completed a year of graduate studies in philosophy at the University of South Florida. He spent eight years working in customer service in the video games industry and is excited to be using his skills and experience to support the vital mission of Urban Roots. Ian loves to read and cook and is exploring gardening. He married his partner Amber in September of 2015 in Big Bend National Park and is excited for all of the new adventures life holds.



Lea Scott

Farm Director

A North Carolina native, Lea graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Communications Studies.  In college, Lea connected with the vibrant, local farming community which inspired her career path and introduced her to a transformative volunteer opportunity farming with the Center for Environment Technology and Rural Development in Kasese, Uganda.  Following graduation, she served an AmeriCorps term operating a community garden for a women’s and children’s shelter in Spokane, Washington.  Lea continued farming and food advocacy work in Spokane and worked as the greenhouse and produce manager for the Main Market Co-Op.  She recently earned a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Vermont.  Lea is very excited to be part of the Urban Roots team and apply her passion for farming to fostering transformative experiences for young people and nourishing the Austin community.


Bernitha (B) Johnson

Program Manager

Mississippi native B Johnson is the newest member of the Urban Roots family. Perpetually passionate about enriching the lives of today’s youth through sports and wellness, B comes to Urban Roots after a 13-year stint as a collegiate women’s basketball Recruiting Coordinator in Binghamton, New York, Buffalo, New York and Ruston, Louisiana. Earning her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, with a minor in Business, from the University of Tennessee, she hit the ground running with her recruiting expertise to offer underrepresented youth the opportunity to become leaders on the basketball court, in the classroom, and in life.  B brings the proficiency of a skilled athletic mentor with her to the Urban Roots farm in Austin, Texas and is excited to see what the marriage of these two fields can create. In her free time, B can be caught sweating in the gym, experiencing Austin with her friends, and making memories traveling the world.


Kristen Williams

Operations Manager

Kristen joined Urban Roots in August of 2016. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2005, studying Radio-Television-Film. After spending over eight years working in account and project management roles for various technology companies, Kristen knew that she wanted to work for an organization that makes a positive contribution to her  community and combines two causes that she cares deeply about, hunger and children. This is what brought her to Urban Roots. Kristen enjoys traveling, cooking and learning new skills. She and her partner Ben have a young toddler that keeps them on their toes and is a constant reminder to enjoy every opportunity that life gives you.


2016-08-16 12.02.08

LaShawn Moore

Development + Volunteer Specialist

LaShawn joined the Urban Roots team in the summer of 2016. Originally from Austin, she was most recently living in the Dallas area working in sports community relations but is glad to be back home. LaShawn attended the University of North Texas and the University of Dallas earning her BBA and MBA, respectively. She is a true city girl who has recently developed a keen interest for urban farming. LaShawn has always believed that opportunity is a driving force for success for young people and is grateful to be part of Urban Roots where that belief is put into action. In her downtime you may find her cheering for her favorite sports teams, flowing through in a yoga studio, or buried in her phone being entertained by shenanigans on social media.


 Lucía Cole

Youth Farm Specialist

After serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Urban Roots for one year, Lucia accepted a staff position as Youth Farm Specialist in 2017. She is inspired by all of the young people she gets to work with at Urban Roots and is beyond grateful to get to work outside on such a beautiful farm, getting dirty and growing food for the Austin community. She hopes that the Urban Roots farm and the food they grow will inspire others to find more just and sustainable food systems, as well. Lucia graduated with her BA in psychology from Southwestern University. In her free time, Lucia enjoys hiking, camping, rock climbing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with her partner Gabby and fat cat Andy.


Shion Chung

Culinary Program Coordinator

Shion joined Urban Roots in August of 2017. She recently graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a bachelors in social work. During her time in college, she focused on adolescent mental health disparities among different populations, and explored the intersections of race, class, and gender identity along with its impacts on mental health. Shion is committed to creating a more just and equitable society through the use of food, laughter, and shared meals. She is grateful to be at Urban Roots and working alongside youth to empower them to speak their truth. In her downtime Shion enjoys reading, watering her plants, watching cooking shows, and loving on her Maltipoo, Choco.


Ally Walsh

Program VISTA

Ally joined Urban Roots as an AmeriCorps VISTA in August of 2017. Her interest in foodways, farming, and sustainability led her to volunteer regularly on the farm in June of 2017. Ally earned a B.A. in Anthropology and Ancient Mediterranean Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a M.A. in Cultural Heritage Management from the University of York in the United Kingdom. Ally worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the San Antonio Museum of Art and spent several years as an archaeologist with environmental consulting firms based in Austin and San Antonio. She is thrilled to be using her skills and experience to support an organization devoted to empowering youth and ensuring that all Austinites have access to fresh, healthy, food. A Connecticut native, Ally has called central Texas home for the last ten years and enjoys all kinds of outdoor adventures, experiencing the local music scene, and cooking with farm-fresh vegetables.


Gabby Torres

Development VISTA

Gabby joined Urban Roots as an AmeriCorps VISTA in August 2017. She recently earned her B.A. in Plan II Honors and Government from The University of Texas at Austin. Focused on research and global human development during undergrad, Gabby feels passionately about public service and aspires to help implement community-centered development programs. She is thrilled to join the team at Urban Roots and be a part of an organization that empowers young people in a city she calls home. In her spare time, she loves running, admiring fresh produce, and recently started playing tennis.


Board of Directors

Mike Martinez, Board Chair — MWM Professional Services

Kate Miller, Board Chair-Elect — Business Development Leader, DLR Group

Tammy Benton-Porter, Treasurer — US Partner Marketing Manager, Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Russell Diez-Canseco, Secretary — President & COO, Vital Farms

Jeanie Haggerty — ThunderCloud Subs

Jonathan Lin Davis — COO, Measure Austin

Carol Gormin — Community Volunteer 

Amy Bell — Senior Director, Tideline


Advisory Board

Eddie Rodriguez, Texas State Representative


Community Advisory Council

Tim Eubanks City of Austin Healthy Adolescent Program

Bianca Flores — Caritas of Austin

Shalieah Fox — Fresh Chefs Society

Lewis Leff — City of Austin Sustainability Department

Tristana Pirkle — Whole Kids Foundation

Stephanie Scherzer — Rain Lilly Farm

Carmen Llanes Pullido — GAVA

Kristi Sitchler — Food Corps

Andrew Smiley — Sustainable Food Center

David Pitre — Tecolote Farm

Hannah Thornton — Nutrition Professor, Texas State University